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severest censures. But, withal, the Mishna is surrounded with a degree of obscurity and hardness, owing to its orientalisms, and a considerable pervasion of a sort of Hebrew-Grecism in its structure.
This obscurity has given rise to another commentary, called the Gemara, or completion. One Gemara, written in Palestine, forms with the Mishna, the Jerusalem Talmud ; and another, written at Babylon, composes the Babylonish Talmud. Thus the Mishna, which the Jews declare to be God's own interpretation of this law, requires interpretation from man, and the whole together forms a mighty work of twelve folio volumes. These are the volumes which contain the whole of the Jewish divinity ; for, dishonouring to God, they have almost completely withdrawn the Jews from the study of Moses and Prophets; if ever these are read, it is always lightly and imperfectly, and still secondary to the ponderous Talmud—that containing the quintessence of religion.
ISRAEL AND THE GENTILES.
CONVERSIONS IN SPAIN IN THE MIDDLE AGES.*
The details we have hitherto given concerning the social position of the Jews in the Peninsula, and their advancement in science, may have afforded some pleasure to the Christian who loves Israel for their fathers' sakes, yet there is a mixture of bitterness in the thought, that these gifts,
* Da Costa's “ Israel and the Gentiles."
these talents and these privileges were enjoyed not only apart from any faith in their true Messiah, but even in opposition to that faith. Their his, tory in Spain happily offers some far brighter pages. It is worthy of note, that, while no country in the world used such violent and tyrannical measures to bring the Jews over to Christi. anity, neither did any other produce so many bright examples of sincere and undoubted conversion; no country has yet witnessed so numer
a body of devoted Christian Israelites ! Whatever may have been the cause of this effect, and whether perhaps in part owing to the greater equality of rank, and more frequent intercourse between the members of the church and those of the synagogue in Spain, it is certain that in no other country, either during the middle ages or even in our own time, have the words of the apostle (Rom. xi. 5) been so fully realized; in the midst of Israel's rejection and hardness of heart there was always a remnant according to the election of grace.
Among the sons of Israel who have confessed the Christian faith in Spain, and fought the good fight, either in the ranks of the church or on the field of theology, one of the earliest examples is Julian, Bishop of Toledo, who flourished in the latter part of the seventh century, while the country was still under the dominion of the Goths, before the Saracen invasion. Great praise is awarded to him by the historians of that period, especially for his writings and labours as a Bishop. He took part in the great theological disputes of his time concerning the twofold will of Christ, a question on which this Bishop, or rather the Council of Toledo, at which he presided, expressed
themselves quite independently of the Bishop of Rome. He has left, as the fruit of his labours, several works; a book written against the errors of Judaism, besides commentaries, sermons, hymns, and sacred poetry, with a history of the wars of King Wamba. The life and praises of Julian were written by Bishop Felix, his successor in the see of Toledo.
Another Christian Israelite, of less elevated rank in the Church, Alvarus Paulus, of Cordova, flourished in the middle of the ninth century, and is principally known to us by bis letter to Eleazar, who had passed from Gentile idolatry to Judaism. When taking up the defence of the Christian faith, he confesses at once his own Jewish origin, and his belief that Messiah was already come, and then continues, “ Which of us has the most right to the name of Jew; you, who have passed from the worship of idols to the knowledge of one God, or I, who am an Israelite both by birth and faith? Yet I no longer call myself a Jew, because that new name is given to me which the mouth of the Lord hath named ! Abraham is in truth my father, but not only because my ancestors proceed from him. Those who have expected Messiah should come, but who also receive him because he is already come, are more truly Israelites than those who, after long waiting for him, rejected him when he came, and yet cease not to expect his coming."
Rabbi Samuel Jehudi, of Fez, in Morocco, affords another instance of sincere conversion to the Christian faith.
An interesting letter of his remains to us, written originally in Arabic, and addressed to a Rabbi of the same country, named Dr. Isaac.
This letter, of which a Latin version, made by the Dominican Alfonso de Buen Hombre, in 1329, has been repeatedly published, contains an ample refutation of Jewish objections to the Christian faith, written in accordance with the views of that period. A Spanish translation of this letter still remains in manuscript in the library of the Escurial. Baptized in Spain soon after the taking of Toledo, by Alfonso VI., Rabbi Samuel appears to have returned to Morocco, and there to have held a conference on religion with a learned Mahomedan, of which his account, still in manuscript, is also to be found in the library of the Escurial.
To the eleventh century also belongs the birth of another Christian Israelite, who was afterwards distinguished for the testimony he bore to the truth and power of the Gospel.
Rabbi Moses, of Huesca, in Arragon, was born in the year 1062, and baptized in the year 1106, King Alphonso I. standing as his sponsor, after whom, and his brother and predecessor, he was named Pedro Alphonso. He afterwards wrote a defence of Christianity, and a refutation of Jewish incredulity, in the form of a dialogue between Moses and Pedro Alphonso ; this work is spoken of in high terms, and has since been of great use in Spain. We have also by him a “ Disciplina Clericalis,” under the title of “ Proverbs, in which he seems to have borrowed from the Arabic writers, especially the tales and fables of Pilpay.
Another learned and distinguished Israelite who received the Christian faith,
and made known in his writings the ground of his belief, was Rabbi Abner, the physician in the early part of the fourteenth century.
While yet in communion with the synagogue, he wrote an explanation of Aben Ezra's treatise on the Ten Commandments. When converted to the Christian faith he wrote a refutation of Kimchi's work against Christianity, known by the same title, “ The Wars of the Lord.”'
At the request of the Infanta Blanca, Abbess of the Convent Las Huelgas, at Burgos, he translated the work into Spanish. As a Christian, he is known by the name of Alphonso of Burgos, his native city, or of Valladolid, where, until his death in 1346, he filled the post of Sacristan to the Cathedral.
MISSIONS TO THE JEWS.
Conversation with Jewish Children.
On July 5th, a Colporteur, employed by the Society in the North of Germany, had to pass through a forest, not very far from Labes, where he met with five children, three boys and two girls, about the age of from eight to eleven
years. As soon as they had espied him, they came running to him, offering him their strawberries, which they had been gathering, with the greatest delight.
“ Who are you, children?” asked the man with the knapsack.
We are Jewish children;" was the reply. “But do you know me?”
· Yes, to be sure. You made us a present of those beautiful little books."
And have you read them ?” “Yes, certainly."